The move to Vegas started as of January 1, 2008. I was living in Old Town, San Diego, heavily touted as “The Birthplace of San Diego”. A neighborhood filled with parks, weekend festivities, a haunted house, and an untold but numerous number of Mexican restaurants. The area was nice, but my little family unit was existing in an overpriced shoebox of a place run by a near useless landlord and his overbearing mother. Both parties decided it was time for us to go.
Visiting Las Vegas is far different from living in Las Vegas. You don’t think about things like bills or going to Target or the fact that grocery stores have mini casinos in them filled with blue haired old ladies whittling away their butter and egg money on slot machines to fund payment for the store’s electric bill. Non-stop nights of having shots poured down your throat by busty waitresses and rounds of Blackjack are now met by the realization that this particular “weekend” is now a normal way of life, and you have to still pay rent. Not that locals really gamble all that much, anyway. Then again, my “vice” remained the “Warp Core Breach” from Star Trek: The Experience. Chugging down a fishbowl of that, then staggering to the bridge of the Enterprise D made for some good times.
I didn’t have much time to really explore the novelty of life in Vegas, though.
About two weeks into living in Vegas, I got a call from my sister. The doctors had found some abnormalities on my Dad’s lungs, and it wasn’t looking good. My Mother died in 1996 due to lung cancer, and the conversations had with both my Dad and sibling were starting to go along the same lines as that time in history. As before, I listened to what was being said, but refused to accept this was the “final” proclamation on the matter. I had to hope. And with just settling in and getting my life in order, I didn’t have time to dwell on it. At least not at the time.
I did manage to find a job as a technical writer at some company that sold vitamins and other pharmaceutical pills. I should have known something was up when I realized that the company operated under three different names. I should have known something was up when the manager who hired me quit a week later. But I needed money, especially if I was going to fly back to Texas to see my Dad.
The company sold pills. Pills that could cure every known ailment to mankind. They even had a pill they proudly dubbed “Gaytrol”, or “Gay Away”, a pill they claimed was designed to cure people of being gay. It also had the side benefit of curing the sexual urges of child molesters. “Those aren’t even remotely the same thing”, I argued, but my co-workers gave me that sidelong glance to let me know they gave up on trying to understand that particular logic long ago. And for a “Christian based company”, they were launching a whole other side line of sex based pills designed to do… pretty much whatever you would want or imagine.
I wasn’t there to argue logic. I was just there to make money. And to get the new landlord to give me all of my keys. That was a teeth pulling adventure in itself.
It was one day, not much later, that my sister broke the news: Dad indeed had cancer. Stage IV cancer over the entirety of his body. I wasn’t able to drive anymore, sitting numbly in my car until I could force myself to drive back to the condo. When I pulled into my parking spot, I got the call:
“Hello, Guy”, he said.
“Well, you already know.”
“Yeah. I do.”
And that’s the moment when my world began to change….